Sep 11, 2020 | by Budi Tanrim

Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps

Continuing with our series on entering product design. I hope you start to consider stopping looking for the perfect recipe or silver bullet.

At this point, I suspect you wonder if you don’t follow steps, then what should you hang onto?

You should be relying on principles instead of steps.

Let me reintroduce you to principles. Yes, you read it right: reintroduce. In your life, realizing it or not, you already make decisions with the help of principles. For example, if it’s raining, you know you shouldn’t get wet, or you can get sick. So you decide to either put an umbrella up or take shelter. However, on some occasions, you might need to get wet because you have to catch up on the last bus of the day.

In that example, you assess the situation using the principles: avoid getting wet whenever possible. Yet, it’s still flexible enough so you can consider the other factors and make a proper trade-off: last bus to catch.

Imagine if you follow steps. If raining, step 1: take a shelter, step 2: wait, and step 3: go home. You’ll be walking all night.

There I loosely explained how principles help us in the real world scenario to make a better decision while allowing you to consider the larger picture.

Principles will be your best friend as a product designer when working on a complex problem.

Product designer must work creatively and critically. You are not working in a manufacture’s assembly line and follow steps. You solve problems.

Now, let’s use Design Thinking as our example. As you read the word design thinking, your head might picture the famous hexagons: understand, define, prototype, test, build. Beware that is a step. Like I emphasized before, you shouldn’t merely follow steps without understanding the underlying principles. Unfortunately, many product designers are stuck with that step and unable to see beyond it.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced product designer. You might think of the three core principles of design thinking: 1) Empathize and observe user, 2) Endless iteration, and 3) Radical collaboration. Or you might think of the three core consideration areas 1) Valuability, 2) Viability, and 3) Feasibility.

When building a product, you should use those core principles to produce a product that valuable for customer to buy, viable for the legal and business, and feasible in the technology perspective.

Just to be clear – there are a lot of principles and not just the three I mentioned above. The key is don’t be a rigid product designer, your work is so different with engineers who have more certainty to build something with code. I’m not trying to underestimate the importance of engineers, but the nature of our work is different.

I will unpack each principle and share a few tools you can use later in part 2 of this series. In the next chapter, I’d love to clear up a common misunderstanding about business.

Continue reading
Newer post: Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business
Older post: Entering product design – Chapter 1: Silver bullet
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2021

Apr 21 Why do you work?
Apr 20 The Steve Jobs' Error
Apr 19 Design is like riding a bike
Apr 16 See your life as an experiment
Apr 14 Lead with respect
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Apr 12 My reflection on leadership
Apr 07 Five years from now
Apr 06 Design Thinking allergy
Apr 05 What should design managers do with OKR?
Apr 04 When was the last time you talked to users?
Apr 03 Three core questions for product team
Apr 01 Inspecting interface design — Exercise with heuristic
Mar 30 Inspecting interface design — HE vs. UT
Mar 29 Inspecting interface design — Overview
Mar 27 Modern product design principles for Millenials designers.
Mar 25 A confusing interface that creates fire.
Mar 23 If F1 drivers get a trophy, what's our trophy?
Mar 22 Getting it right for the first time
Mar 19 Use Peltzman effect to communicate risk
Mar 17 Be the best version of yourself
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Mar 13 Show up and practice
Mar 11 Reader question: How to deal with promotion rejection?
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Mar 09 Product design leadership - Managing and leading
Mar 07 How to draw an owl
Mar 05 Product design leadership — Persevere
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Feb 26 On GUI history, learning, and writing.
Feb 25 Product design leadership — Create changes
Feb 24 Product Design Leadership series
Feb 22 Documenting is a good team’s habit
Feb 18 Have a hard time getting design feedback?
Feb 18 I'm writing a book.
Feb 16 A manager cried in front of me.
Feb 15 Should I move to the managerial role?
Feb 12 Friday diary 01: On personal development, being senior, and breaking small task.
Feb 11 Evangelizing the human-centered practice
Feb 09 Human-centered team vs. Feature-centered team – Strategic insight
Feb 08 Human-centered team vs. Feature-centered team – Strategic relationship
Feb 08 Human-centered team vs. Feature-centered team – Overview
Feb 05 Dealing with top down request
Feb 03 Every team has its unique challenges.
Feb 02 Business aware designer – Recognize your competitors
Jan 29 Business aware designer – Job to be done
Jan 27 Business aware designer – Value proposition
Jan 26 Business-aware designer - overview
Jan 25 What do product designers do?
Jan 22 Announcement for mentorship program
Jan 21 Community story: impostor syndrome
Jan 20 Should startups build a design system?
Jan 18 How I overcame my impostor syndrome
Jan 17 User metrics - Signals and Metrics
Jan 15 User metrics - Vision
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Jan 13 Give back to the community
Jan 12 4P: framework for choosing job
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Jan 09 Principles of good portfolio design
Jan 07 An effective product design portfolio – Constraint
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Jan 05 Connect user and business with AARRR framework
Jan 05 My blog in 2021
Jan 03 Should I build the feature request from customers?

2020

Dec 30 Feature requests are stupid business activity
Dec 21 The benefit of creating a design portfolio
Nov 24 About self-doubt
Nov 11 Don't confuse design with artifacts
Nov 06 What if you need to find another job tomorrow?
Oct 26 Making sense of your design project by writing
Sep 30 When was the last time you reflect?
Sep 29 Methods are tools
Sep 24 How can I get a bigger project?
Sep 23 Entering product design – Chapter 7: Craft and analysis
Sep 22 Entering product design – Chapter 6: Narrow collaborator
Sep 21 Entering product design – Chapter 5: Soloist product designers
Sep 17 Entering product design – Chapter 4: Product designer key skill areas
Sep 14 Entering product design – Chapter 3: Misunderstanding of business
Sep 11 Entering product design – Chapter 2: Principles over steps
Sep 10 Entering product design – Chapter 1: Silver bullet
Sep 10 Entering product design – Overview
Sep 04 SAR: A framework for concise storytelling
Aug 27 Start your design with outcome
Aug 24 New medium post: Collaboration ground for design systems
Aug 17 Action points
Aug 13 Pulse check: Listen to your team
Aug 11 You should actively apply for a new job
Aug 10 Design systems' area of influence: Service (3/3)
Aug 04 Design systems' area of influence: Offering (2/3)
Aug 03 Design systems' area of influence: Identity (1/3)
Aug 01 My mom ran me to the hospital
Jul 29 Reader question: Do we need to build MVP for every product?
Jul 27 Reader question: Do I need formal design education?
Jul 24 Recognize assumptions
Jul 21 Sandbox for your personal growth
Jul 20 Start your week with questions
Jul 17 Specificity in feedback
Jul 15 Don't sell the design. Sell the business impact
Jul 14 Overwhelming inspiration
Jul 13 The framing trap
Jul 10 Everyone vs. Specific
Jul 09 The blind horse designer
Jul 08 Set the context in your meeting
Jul 07 Let's just try and see what happens
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Jun 17 A simple exercise for career reflection
May 31 The “Coach sheet” – A paper-based system for people management
May 26 Bring calm to your remote team
Feb 13 Workshops can be more efficient than meetings
Feb 07 3 questions designers should be asking
Feb 06 Walking 1on1: A refreshing way to connect

2019

Nov 21 My hope for stubborn 'Innovators'
Jul 18 Five simple actions to help you gain more time
Apr 23 Evolving Product Experience Principles at Bukalapak
Mar 09 A framework to give better design feedback: Analyze, Discuss, Suggest
Jan 28 Making a decision is hard, here's my rule of thumb

2018

Dec 04 Essential skills for Product Designers
Nov 16 Quick life update
Nov 06 Things I learned from working at Shopify
Oct 15 About design critique
Sep 17 Common icon design problems you should avoid
Sep 06 Preface: Welcome to yellowstroke.com